The Five Global Challenges

Your Strategy

What do we need to prioritize this decade?

The five global challenges emerging from the Strategy 2030 consultations are a balance of existing and emerging risks, that are most relevant to our mandate and our scope of influence. These are inseparable from each other and are heavily influenced by trends identified in our Global Thematic Futures Report.

Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest risks and a threat multiplier, facing humanity in the coming decades. Rising climate risks already affect almost every aspect of our work, including health, shelter, livelihoods, and disaster risk reduction. Climate change also increases the uncertainties we face and will accelerate displacement in densely populated regions. At the same time, these events will be increasingly complex, compounded by poverty, disease, displacement, and conflict, and interacting with urbanization and population growth, putting increased pressure on scarce natural resources, including the demand for food and water. These intersecting issues is ramping up exposure and vulnerability. From increasing climate-related risks in cities, in regions already suffering from violent conflict, and the grave consequences for the mental health and psychosocial well-being of the individuals and communities who are affected. 

As the world adapts to rising risks and implements what needs to be a radical shift towards a low-carbon economy, our role to address and bring attention to the needs of people in vulnerable situations will be increasingly important. Adaptation and mitigation must be high on our collective agenda for human well-being and integrated into all of our work. We will need to be prepared for and anticipate events ranging from local emergencies to mega-disasters, from predictable events to unexpected disasters. More holistically, we will also dedicate more concentrated efforts to reducing human vulnerability to longer-term consequences of climate change that will threaten development, poverty reduction and water and food security. 

Our focus over the coming decade must be on reducing the current and future humanitarian impacts of climate change and to support people to thrive in the face of it.

Climate change can no longer be viewed in isolation. Climate risk management and the underlying drivers of vulnerability must be integrated into all of our programmes and operations.

We need to embrace early action models, scientific forecasts, and other innovations that can improve our response.

We also need to adopt better environmental management and nature-based solutions in our approaches to addressing exposure and vulnerability. 

As decisions are taken at local, national and global levels to address climate change, our strong humanitarian voice will be critical to foster the right level of ambition on both adaptation and mitigation, but especially also to ensure people in vulnerable situations are not left behind. We will speak out at all levels on the impacts of climate change on current and future humanitarian risk, calling for greater attention to those most at risk and more support for community-level action.

To increase our impact in all areas of our work, we will also foster and strengthen new and different types of partnerships drawing on new expertise, outreach and scientific knowledge. We will expand our legislative advocacy, strengthen the Red Cross and Red Crescent Green Response Framework, and strive to reduce our own environmental footprint.

Crisis and Disasters

The convergence, frequency and scale of increasing natural disasters, fragility, violence and conflict in the world is threatening efforts to end extreme poverty. Disasters are predicted to increase over the next decade as global temperatures climb and cause more frequent and intense weather events. While there are fewer large-scale interstate conflicts, other forms of conflict and violence have increased since 2010 and are prolonged with system wide implications.

Disasters and crisis are increasingly concentrated in complex settings. By 2030, almost half of the world’s poor are expected to live in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence – mostly in Africa and the Middle East. As a result of the rate of urbanisation in Africa and Asia, we are seeing increasing disaster risks and violence in cities. As many as one in every three people living in cities will be in informal settlements within the period and will experience significant deprivation. Beyond traditional drivers of disasters and crisis, our increasing dependence on technology brings new risks and vulnerabilities including technological collapse, cyber and digital risks, ethics and digital vulnerability implications.

Our focus over the coming decade must be on mitigating the vulnerabilities and disadvantages resulting from all types of crisis and disasters for all people, especially the most vulnerable, so that all are able to thrive.

We will integrate disaster risk reduction and response programming across migration, climate change, food security, livelihoods, urban environments, health and digital vulnerabilities to ensure that we are working in an integrated manner, particularly in crisis and fragile contexts.

As a global network we will become better at anticipating and adapting to increasing and emerging risks, and work on stronger preventative measures. We will also expand approaches that promotes choice-enabling programming and actions as mechanisms that help communities decide for themselves what type of support they need within their contexts.  


Significant global health gains have been achieved in recent years. Major medical advances against killer diseases are continuously being achieved and new technologies offer greater regional and global infectious disease surveillance, to predict and prevent future infectious diseases threats.

However, people continue to face a complex mix of interconnected threats to their health and well-being. Infectious disease remains a major public health concern around the world. The changing health landscape and the threat multipliers of climate change on a global population that has changing demographics, aging and more dependant populations, face a higher rate of non-communicable disease and increased exposure to environmental pollution and toxins. Persistent threats also continue in ensuring safe access to water and safely managed sanitation and humanity is more at risk than ever of a global pandemic and epidemicThese issues collide with contexts where more than a billion people live in places where protracted crises and weak health services leave them without access to basic care and fostering environments where many other forgotten diseases emerge. Increasingly, mental health issues (in particular depression and anxiety disorders) rank highly in the global burden of disease, with social and digital isolation contributing to loneliness becoming a public health issue that is projected to reach epidemic proportions.

Most countries across the globe are facing a formidable challenge to manage the rapidly increasing cost of health care. A projected significant shortage of health workers – estimated to reach 18 million by 2030 – will affect the delivery of health services at all levels.

Our goal is that all citizens have safe, and equitable access to health, water, sanitation, and care services, in all countries. 

We will increase our work in community health and increase the number of Red Cross and Red Crescent community health workers, as well as supporting National Societies utilising their auxiliary role to deploy RCRC volunteers into health workforce strategies.

We will expand integrated health and care and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes to ‘last mile’ settings in order to meet the needs of vulnerable or marginalized groups in all countries where formal health systems are not able to meet the needs of their populations. We will also significantly invest in epidemic and pandemic preparedness.

We will work with partners to ensure that people have access the health care they need at a price they can afford.

Migration and identity

The movement of people, whether voluntary or involuntary, is one of the defining features of the 21st century. Migration has helped improve people’s lives in both origin and destination countries and has offered millions of people worldwide to forge safe and meaningful lives.

The number of migrants globally has grown since 2000 alongside global population growth, and in some part of the developing world, is overtaking fertility as a main driver of population growth. This is projected to keep increasing as rising instances of conflict and poverty, a lack of quality employment opportunities and climate change redraws the map of where people can live.

Migration is a concern for us because of the increasing risks that people face when they are on the move. These risks include exploitation and abuse at the hands of traffickers and other criminal groups, as well deprivations that are caused by policies that limit access to basic services and care. These journeys are particularly difficult for stateless people and those who do not have official proof of identity.

There are underlying tensions that migration is increasingly challenging the conventional definitions of citizenship, and identity. It is being used in some countries to fuel tension and even xenophobia. It has been blamed for economic and social marginalisation and has been instrumental in political debates and elections.  This is often accompanied – in migrants and host communities alike – by stress and worries about identity, about the changing fabric and make up of societies, and what it means to ‘belong’.

We want all people who migrate, to be safe, be treated humanely and with dignity. We want all people to have the support they need to thrive in inclusive societies.

Strategy 2030 envisages the expansion and integration of migration and inclusion programming and services across all service areas. We will expand our support to migrants at all points along major migratory routes. This includes scaling up our work to foster and promote inclusion and social cohesion, recognizing that these issues are interlinked to the wellbeing and flourishing of all people both in home and host communities. We will pay particular attention to the links between climate change and migration, recognising that the coming decade will likely see millions of people leave their homes because of changing weather.

We will improve how we work across borders, allowing for more connected programmes between countries, National Societies and along migration routes.

We will strive to ensure that our programming is reflective of the societies we live in and expand the diversity and inclusion in our staff and volunteers. We will speak up to influence global, regional and domestic policy and advocacy dialogue for a more inclusive world.

Values, power, and inclusion

Values-based tensions are manifesting in different ways in different places, creating new fault lines within and between countries, regions and communities. The benefits of economic and technological progress are not being equally shared, and the pace of change is leaving many political, regulatory and welfare systems unable to cope, fostering division and aggravating grievances. The implications of globalisation and increasing inequality is fuelling a push back on elitism, but also fanning populism, nationalism, and cultural and religious clashes.

Many previously marginalised voices are now demanding that they are present for and involved in decision-making. In some countries, efforts to secure recognition and equality for a widening range of social groups – defined by characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation – are now influencing elections.

The consequences of these changes are being seen every day across a range of issues. Much-loved and well-known institutions are being challenged as expectations change, accountability is demanded, and trust is no longer a given. In many places, the space for civil society is shrinking, with people and communities refusing to be spoken for and demanding change from both governments and institutions. Multilateralism is under increasing strain. At the same time, many governments are asserting sovereignty or even rejecting the involvement of outside organizations in domestic affairs.  Local-led responses to disasters and crisis will increasingly drive international response in the coming decade.

Values are increasingly seen to be a source of division rather than unity, not just globally but also within regions and countries.

At their worst, these transformations risk giving rise to a more disconnected, less humane, less empathetic world. These issues illustrate an unapologetic subordination of human lives to other gains – an anti-humanitarianism. We see this playing out in the politicization of humanitarian crises, making it increasingly difficult for neutral and impartial aid agencies to operate independently.

We want to promote inclusive and fair humanitarian values that encourage a positive, hopeful change for humanity.

Expanded humanitarian education programmes will focus on combating rising anti-humanitarianism, xenophobia and polarisation, as well as improving access for people whose education has been disrupted by war, disaster or displacement. Our education programmes will also prepare people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

We will consciously invest in shifting power structures in all spaces – communities, institutions, and our own network. At the same time, our work in diversity and inclusion will expand, particularly in our work and support of women and girls. We will recognise the impact gender inequalities have on people’s ability to thrive and increase our support for women’s leadership across all levels of our organisations.